Craig’s Randy Miller sets out on cross-state scooter ride, addressing suicide in veterans | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig’s Randy Miller sets out on cross-state scooter ride, addressing suicide in veterans

Randy Miller contemplated suicide after losing both his legs in an accident.He will raise awareness and hope for other people who might be struggling by riding his electric scooter across Colorado.

CRAIG — Two years ago when a terrible accident literally cut him off above the knees, Craig’s Randy Miller hit a low point, again literally, and found himself contemplating suicide.

His five kids, his new wife and a lot of prayer gave him a new purpose.

"My kids are counting on me to show them and other people, that no matter how hard it is, there are people on your side," he said.

With the help of wife Marlena Miller and local supporters, Randy is preparing to set out to do just that by taking his custom-built electric scooter on a ride across Colorado — along I-70 from Utah to Denver and then turning north on I-25 from Denver to the Wyoming line — to raise awareness of the high rate of suicide, especially in veterans.

"Most of them feel like a burden on their family, and many commit suicide around this time of year," Marlena said.

The couple lost three friends, all veterans, who completed suicide in the last year.

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Randy too was considering that at his darkest moment.

The incident occurred in 2016 when the lower half of his body was crushed between a friend's 2007 Mercury Mountaineer and a Ford F-350 while trying to repair the Mountaineer in the driveway of his home. He was flown to Grand Junction where doctors were able to save his life but not his legs.

Since then, he's had to learn how to move through a world not built for someone on wheels.

"It's hard when you can't get into a building because the doors aren't wide enough," he said.

Before the accident he was known for racing cars and motorcycles. After the accident he found he had to adapt to a scooter that tops out at 15 miles an hour.

And it hasn't been easy for Randy to ask for help instead of offering it. He found himself asking the community for help to save his house, but that too was lost.

"I figured I'd better get going on dying or going on living,” he said.

He chose living, and eight months ago the open road called to him as he started planning his ride for hope.

"I hope he'll show other veterans and people with handicaps that no matter what life throws your way you can accomplish anything you set your mind to," Marlena said. "He’s trying to save at least one life this year, and if he’s able to do that then this will be a success no matter what."

Many people riding across the state for a cause usually travel through Craig on U.S. Highway 40, but Miller has chosen to ride along the interstate system.

"It's the most populated and most visible route," he said.

Marlena pointed to a second reason to take to the interstate highways.

"If something happens there are enough people around that if he breaks down there should be some help," she said.

The electric scooter Randy uses tows a wagon that holds batteries donated by Interstate Batteries of Northwestern Colorado. He is also equipped with lights, reflective materials and triangles. He said that Colorado State Patrol intends to lend support.

The Millers had hoped to get the ride underway in early October, closer to the start of Suicide Prevention month, but on Oct. 11 his scooter broke down. The "mechanic for life" used three scooters to rebuild his ride.

A second delay occurred on Oct. 17 when the van meant to take him to his chosen starting point also broke down, but the Millers are undeterred. They've faced bigger obstacles.

"Weather is setting in quick, I think God knows we need to do this, and I think we need to do this now," Randy Miller said.

The Millers are grateful for the support they've already received and are continuing to raise funds to help with the cost of the trip, to help buy coats and hats and items for people that might need them this winter, and to give others a set of wheels.

"I'll also go through some old scooters, repair them and give them to people who might need them," he said.

Randy’s trip can be followed on Facebook by visiting Veterans and Handicapped Ride For Hope.

Editor's note: If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide there is 24/7 help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255, the Colorado Crisis Services Statewide Hotline 844-493-TALK (8255), the Mind Springs Health Local Crisis Hotline 888-207-4004 or Text TALK to 38255.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

By the numbers

• A suicide data sheet shows that in 2015, a total of 6,115 veterans completed suicide that year of which 1,583 or 34.6 percent were from western states and 159 or 38.7 percent were from Colorado.

• Between 2016 and 2017 the rate of suicide in Colorado, measured across all populations, leveled off but was still one of the highest in the nation as 20.2 people per 100,000 residents were lost to suicide, up from 14.1 per 100,000 in 2000, according to the Colorado Health Institute.

• For more information on Randy Miller’s ride, visit his Facebook page at Veterans and Handicapped Ride For Hope or call 970-761-3401.

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